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Published: Wednesday, 12/6/2000

Historian wrote about river towns

GRAND RAPIDS, O. - June Huffman, 71, a local historian who wrote books about the history of Grand Rapids, Waterville, and Providence Township, died Monday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

Her husband, Lowell, said she was diagnosed with cancer in June. The couple lived on Jeffers Road in Providence Township.

Mrs. Huffman authored The Providence Record, which dealt with the history of the township, Over a Century of Grand Rapids, Ohio, History, and Olde Waterville. She also wrote Shades of Providence, which described life and events along the former canal town of Providence.

Mrs. Huffman grew up on a farm in Providence Township. She graduated in 1947 from the former Grand Rapids High School. She married Mr. Huffman in 1948.

She began her writing career by entering jingles and slogan contests sponsored by food companies in the 1950s and 1960s.

Her daughter, Bonnie Hearndon, who is the Waterville Township police chief, said her mother gave the prizes she won to her children.

“One time I had the choice of an English sheepdog or a Schwinn bicycle. I took the bicycle,” she said.

Mrs. Huffman and Betsy Boyle founded The Rapids Record, a monthly newspaper, in 1986. They shared the duties of writing and editing the publication, which serves as a community bulletin board for Grand Rapids. Mrs. Huffman wrote her last story for the paper in August, 1999.

“She was a stickler for having her historic facts accurate,” Mrs. Boyle said.

Mrs. Huffman wrote free-lance articles on local history that were published in The Blade's Sunday Magazine as well as Ohio Magazine and the American Legion's monthly publication.

Mrs. Huffman was the authority on local history for Grand Rapids and Providence Township. She kept and filed some 2,000 obituaries from area newspapers. She poured through records, books, and newspaper clippings in local libraries to obtain information. She also researched and computerized the names of the dead people in three area cemeteries.

She became known as the person to call for genealogy research and tracing living descendants. “She knew most of the answers without going and looking it up,” Mr. Huffman said. “She did a lot of reading.”

Mrs. Huffman began writing books in 1976. Her first effort was The Presbyterian Pageant, which covered the history of First Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids. Mrs. Huffman was a Sunday school teacher, deacon, and elder at the church.

In an article published in The Blade in 1993, Mrs. Huffman said she used oral histories and personal collections for the book she wrote about Grand Rapids.

“It's important to document these things and the people who lived there,” she said.

She was a founder and past president of the Grand Rapids Historical Society.

Surviving are her husband, Lowell B.; sons, Dan B. and Joel R.; daughter, Bonnie Hearndon; sister, Shirley Vislay, and four granddaughters.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in the Wright Funeral Home, where visitation will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow.

The family requests tributes to First Presbyterian Church or the American Cancer Society.



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